Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This week an announcement has rocked the news industry in Colorado, again shifting the definition of what constituted locally-owned and produced community news.

A string of Colorado ski-town newspapers and other Front Range news organizations owned by the Nevada-based Swift Communications were sold this week to Ogden Newspapers of West Virginia.

In Colorado, the sale affects at least 11 newspapers and communities from Steamboat Springs to Greeley. They include The Craig Press, Eagle Valley Enterprise, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, Snowmass Sun, Ski-Hi News, Steamboat Pilot, Summit Daily News, Aspen Times, Citizen Telegram, The Fence Post, and Vail Daily.

Ogden Newspapers is family-owned, and according to the announcement, ‘It’s not a hedge fund’, which is how recent local news acquisitions have been described (think Alden Global Capital’s acquisition and stripping of assets of several historic news organizations, including the Denver Post)

From The Summit Daily News, which first published this week’s announcement:

Ogden Newspapers is a fifth-generation, family-owned, and operated newspaper company, founded in 1890 by H.C. Ogden. In his announcement, Robert Nutting, CEO of Ogden Newspapers and The Nutting Co., reiterated his family’s commitment to the industry and the critical role of community newspapers. The deal is scheduled to close Dec. 31, and with the acquisition, Ogden Newspapers will publish 54 daily newspapers and a number of weekly newspapers and magazines in 18 states.
Nutting owns the Pittsburgh Pirates ball team where he earned the nickname “Bottom-Line Bob,” according to The Los Angeles Times. His bio on the company website calls him a “passionate conservationist” who serves as vice-chairman of the Nature Conservancy of West Virginia. Company VP Bill Nutting, the site states, sits on the board of The Associated Press.

Ogden’s motives may not be purely focused on preserving independent news. In 2018, Ogden dropped a bid to buy the Gazette-Mail in Charleston, West Virginia that was known for taking on the coal industry in a state dominated by coal interests. Nutting is quoted as telling The Washington Post that when it looked like Ogden would be the one to buy the paper, “No coal industry lawyer or anyone else will make decisions for us in the hiring of newsroom staff.”

The impacts of this current purchase remain to be seen.

As part of this deal, “Ogden will acquire the name Swift Communications,” Swift CEO Bill Waters wrote to staff in a Nov. 30 email. “After the deal closes, our company will be renamed to Questor Corp.”